My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In “Job: A Comedy of Justice” the protagonist, Alexander Hergensheimer, finds himself randomly drifting from one alternative universe to another. After his initial shift, he’s joined by a lover, Margrethe, who knows him from her world as Alec Graham. The couple stay together through many other ill-timed world shifts, and are only separated when Hergensheimer finds himself in heaven. Facing the question of what he’d do to be reunified with the woman he loves, the novel really gets interesting.
As you may have expected, the name of the book is the Biblical name “Job” (i.e. rhymes with lobe) and not “job” as in an occupation.
Each time the couple shifts, they are poor anew. While geography remains unchanged, history and money are different from one world to the next. Hergenshiemer washes dishes to make a living because he can’t engage in his trade, preacher, in these worlds. He can’t do anything else without valid identification.
Just as Dante inadvertently convinces us that the first circle of hell is preferable to heaven (who wouldn’t rather be in the company of Socrates and Virgil than that of Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart,) Heinlein creates an afterlife that is a good deal more complex but also more just than the Biblical version.
I recommend this humorous and thought-provoking book.